Elise Amendola/Associated Press
By beating New York, the Red Sox reached 104 wins, nine ahead of the Houston Astros. Boston is also on pace to set a franchise record for most victories in a season—in a bid to best the 1912 squad that racked up 105 wins.
The Red Sox were the first team to clinch a playoff berth when they beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 on Sept. 11. Their subdued celebration indicated the job was far from over.
“It’s a nice accomplishment, but this isn’t what we set out to do,” Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi said, per the Eagle-Tribune‘s Chris Mason. “We still have a lot of things to prove. The goal is to win the World Series.”
The Red Sox’s mindset is understandable. Two years ago, the Cleveland Indians swept the Sox out of the American League Division Series. A season ago, the World Series champion Houston Astros brushed them aside in four games in the ALDS.
The 2018 Red Sox have the pieces to get to the Fall Classic.
Chris Sale is enjoying a campaign that may have culminated in his first Cy Young Award had shoulder issues not kept him out for a stretch. The seven-time All-Star is 12-4 with a 1.92 ERA and 222 strikeouts in 150 innings.
Just as important, Rick Porcello, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez have meet or exceeded expectations. Having a strong three- or four-man rotation is imperative in the playoffs, and the Red Sox’s starters shouldn’t be an issue in October.
That’s the case with the starting lineup as well, as J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi anchor one of the most fearsome offenses in baseball.
According to FanGraphs, Boston entered Thursday first in slugging percentage (.448), first in weighted on-base average (.336) and tied for fourth in weighted runs created plus (108).
The playoffs can be a bit of a crapshoot. For example, two of Boston’s playoff losses in 2016 were decided by one run apiece.
Because of that, it’s difficult to label any season that doesn’t end in a World Series title a disappointment. But a number of Red Sox fans will likely consider anything short of a ninth championship an underwhelming conclusion to an otherwise outstanding year.